By Dr. Jessica Warnecke PT, DPT, OCS
Chronic low back pain (cLBP) is a serious condition affecting millions of people each year. 80% of people will report some occurrence of LBP during their lifetime and for many, it becomes a recurring issue if not appropriately addressed. Often times it is associated with arthritis as we age. Aging, stiffness, and arthritis are a normal part of life. What is not normal is chronic pain and limitations with daily activities.
Back pain can be a very costly issue on multiple levels. For one, cLBP leads to decreased activity levels. The longer the pain lasts, the less activity is done, and the higher the chances are to develop another serious health condition such as heart disease or diabetes. Frequently, pain medication is a common treatment for those suffering LBP. This can lead to dependence, abuse, or other bodily issues reliant on how the body handles the medication.
Overall, this becomes a very costly burden for the individual with recent estimates saying $200 billion/year is spent in the U.S alone due to chronic back pain and arthritis issues. These costs include healthcare visits, physical and medicinal treatment, and wages lost due to time off work. Studies have shown that those with cLBP can average 10+ medical visits each year, deal with unemployment, rely on income from disability, develop depression and struggle with sleep disturbances. Because LBP is so common, physical therapists spend many years in school and plenty more once they’re out in practice learning how to best treat this condition and prevent it from becoming detrimental in the future.
One of the biggest things I teach my patients suffering from chronic back pain, is the importance of movement. The body was designed to move. When we feel pain, our natural response is to stop moving altogether to prevent anything from possibly feeding into our pain. Over the course of days, weeks, and months this can turn into increased stiffness, loss of strength, and less mobility throughout our bone and muscle structures. This feeds into a domino effect of pain becoming more irritable with less of a stimulus required.
In order to defeat this cycle, we must learn how to move safely and comfortably in order to allow our brain to trust our body again. Introducing gradual movements in varying directions allows the brain to see that there is no harmful action present and regain trust with movement. Once mobility is regained, strengthening can be utilized to help improve function for daily and exercise activities. Plus, this helps lay the foundation for prevention of future pain. Knowledge is Power!
In the following videos, I demonstrate simple movements that are safe, help to ease pain, and are beneficial for regaining pain free function following chronic low back. I also include my go-to stretch to help alleviate back pain in the last video :)
For more tips on how to decrease back pain and stiffness, request a free copy of my eBook "10 Quick Tips To End Back Pain And Stiffness (Without Needing Pills Or Surgery)" or contact me with specific questions.
Meet Your Therapist
Jessica has been in Austin, TX for the past four years. She grew up in Idaho and attended PT school at Idaho State University. She completed an Orthopaedic Residency and became a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist in 2016.